Europa League - Round of 32 - 1st Leg
Royal AntwerpRoyal Antwerp3RangersRangers4

Royal Antwerp 3-4 Rangers: Steven Gerrard's side earn frantic Europa League win

By Andrew SouthwickBBC Scotland
Ryan Kent's 83rd-minute goal looked like earning Rangers a draw, before Borna Barisic's late penalty winner
Ryan Kent's 83rd-minute goal looked like earning Rangers a draw, before Borna Barisic's late penalty winner

Two goals in the final seven minutes earned Rangers victory in an astonishing Europa League last-32 epic against Royal Antwerp in Belgium.

Steven Gerrard's side led, and then equalised twice, in the first leg of the tie, before Borna Barisic's second penalty snatched the win with two minutes of regulation time remaining.

Joe Aribo and Ryan Kent also netted for the Scottish Premiership leaders, but injuries to James Tavernier and Kemar Roofe diluted the joy a little before next Thursday's second leg at Ibrox.

Still, the dramatic late triumph leaves Rangers well-placed to reach the last-16 of the Europa League for the second consecutive campaign and maintain Gerrard's impressive European record.

It is a sign of where Rangers are now that they arrived in Belgium with little trepidation, with only Bayer Leverkusen and Young Boys managing to defeat them in their previous 27 European ties.

And they were on the front foot early, and may even have had a penalty in the opening minutes for handball, but the game raged on amid a VAR check.

Tavernier tried to struggle on after an early injury, but the Rangers captain twice crumpled to the turf before being substituted midway through the half. Roofe would later limp off before the break.

Before his departure, Roofe stole into the box but could not get a clear shot at goal, then Alfredo Morelos beat the offside trap and forced the goalkeeper to block from close range.

And Rangers' positive play was eventually rewarded with the lead. Roofe chased a long ball and forced a defender to knock it back to goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, but he spilled and Morelos steered the ball to Aribo, who rifled home from outside the box.

Rangers had conceded just four times in their last 12 games. Now the gauntlet was laid down to Antwerp. And, within minutes, they issued their response when Felipe Avenatti headed a free-kick beyond Allan McGregor.

And with seconds to go before half-time, Rangers conceded a penalty. Lior Refaelov threw himself to the floor after Steven Davis lightly clipped the back of his foot, before picking himself up to score.

That was dramatic enough, but an even more frantic second half was to come.

Ritchie de Laet pulled the shirt of Morelos and, after the Bulgarian referee was advised to check the incident on the pitchside monitor, Rangers had a spot-kick of their own.

Barisic scored but, again, as Rangers went on the front foot they were sucker-punched at the back. Martin Hongla tried his luck from distance, and nestled the shot in the back of the visitors' net.

Rangers went again, and perhaps should have levelled when Ianis Hagi jabbed a near-post cross wide. But they kept pressing, and Kent took the ball past a defender and lashed in a fine finish to level with seven minutes to play.

Both sides had chances to win it. Replacement goalkeeper Ortwin de Wolf stretched out a leg to deny Kent, then McGregor did the same at the other end before Ryan Jack made a goal-line clearance.

And then it was a second spot-kick after Abdoulaye Seck handled Kent's shot, receiving a red card for his troubles. Barisic took a deep breath and scudded in his second of the night as time ran out.

Even then the action was not over, with Koji Miyoshi cracking a late effort off the post for the hosts. But Rangers survived for a win that should take them a long way towards a place in the last 16.

Man of the match - Alfredo Morelos

Alfredo Morelos and Joe Aribo
Morelos (left) may not have scored one of the four goals, but he was at the centre of everything, with the assist for two of the strikes and winning the first of the two penalties

What did we learn?

Many aspects of Rangers' performance were positive. They were dealt a series of blows with early injuries and a controversial penalty leaving them trailing, but they bounced back to level. Even when they fell behind again they still looked the better team.

The lead and four away goals gives them a huge advantage now in their quest to reach the last 16.

Match stats

  • Rangers have only lost one of their past 40 matches across all competitions (W33 D6), with that lone defeat coming against St Mirren in the League Cup in December.
  • The three goals they conceded was as many as in their previous 11 games combined across all competitions.
  • Since the start of last season, only Morelos (12) has been directly involved in more Europa League goals for Rangers than Barisic (9 - 2 goals, 7 assists).
  • This was the highest-scoring European game Antwerp have been involved in since September 1994, when they were beaten 5-2 at Newcastle in the Uefa Cup.

What's next?

Rangers host Dundee United on Sunday (15:00 GMT) as they continue their Scottish Premiership campaign, before welcoming Antwerp to Ibrox four days later (18:00).

Line-ups

Royal Antwerp

Formation 3-5-1-1

  • 1Safar BeiranvandSubstituted forDe Wolfat 77'minutes
  • 4SeckBooked at 88mins
  • 31Le Marchand
  • 2de LaetBooked at 58mins
  • 30Ulineia Buta
  • 16GerkensSubstituted forMiyoshiat 90+2'minutes
  • 18HonglaBooked at 88minsSubstituted forGelinat 90+1'minutes
  • 15BoyaSubstituted forVerstraeteat 69'minutes
  • 94J Lukaku
  • 11RefaelovSubstituted forAmpomahat 90+2'minutes
  • 90Avenatti

Substitutes

  • 5Verstraete
  • 19Miyoshi
  • 22Nsimba
  • 23Ampomah
  • 26Gelin
  • 41Thiam
  • 48Pavlic
  • 63Van Den Bosch
  • 97De Wolf

Rangers

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1McGregor
  • 2TavernierSubstituted forBalogunat 24'minutes
  • 6Goldson
  • 5Helander
  • 31BarisicBooked at 44mins
  • 37ArfieldBooked at 64minsSubstituted forJackat 74'minutes
  • 10Davis
  • 18KamaraSubstituted forHagiat 74'minutes
  • 17Aribo
  • 20Morelos
  • 25RoofeSubstituted forKentat 45+5'minutesBooked at 53mins

Substitutes

  • 7Hagi
  • 8Jack
  • 11Itten
  • 14Kent
  • 23Wright
  • 24Stewart
  • 26Balogun
  • 28Simpson
  • 33McLaughlin
Referee:
Georgi Kabakov

Match Stats

Home TeamRoyal AntwerpAway TeamRangers
Possession
Home43%
Away57%
Shots
Home8
Away15
Shots on Target
Home6
Away6
Corners
Home0
Away5
Fouls
Home11
Away12

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Royal Antwerp 3, Rangers 4.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Royal Antwerp 3, Rangers 4.

  3. Post update

    Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Nana Ampomah.

  4. Post update

    Leon Balogun (Rangers) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Jordan Lukaku (Royal Antwerp).

  6. Post update

    Borna Barisic (Rangers) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Aurélio Buta (Royal Antwerp).

  8. Post update

    Koji Miyoshi (Royal Antwerp) hits the right post with a left footed shot from outside the box.

  9. Post update

    Foul by Filip Helander (Rangers).

  10. Post update

    Felipe Avenatti (Royal Antwerp) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Royal Antwerp. Koji Miyoshi replaces Pieter Gerkens.

  12. Substitution

    Substitution, Royal Antwerp. Nana Ampomah replaces Lior Refaelov.

  13. Substitution

    Substitution, Royal Antwerp. Jeremy Gelin replaces Martin Hongla.

  14. Post update

    Goal! Royal Antwerp 3, Rangers 4. Borna Barisic (Rangers) converts the penalty with a left footed shot to the top right corner.

  15. Booking

    Martin Hongla (Royal Antwerp) is shown the yellow card.

  16. Dismissal

    Second yellow card to Abdoulaye Seck (Royal Antwerp) for hand ball.

  17. Post update

    Penalty conceded by Abdoulaye Seck (Royal Antwerp) with a hand ball in the penalty area.

  18. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Ryan Kent (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Alfredo Morelos.

  19. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Ritchie de Laet (Royal Antwerp) right footed shot from very close range is blocked.

  20. Post update

    Attempt saved. Abdoulaye Seck (Royal Antwerp) header from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Lior Refaelov.

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Roma6411135813
2Young Boys631297210
3CFR Cluj6123410-65
4CSKA Sofia612337-45

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Arsenal66002051518
2Molde6312911-210
3Rapid Vienna62131113-27
4Dundalk6006819-110

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1B Leverkusen65012181315
2Slavia Prague64021110112
3Hapoel Be'er Sheva6204713-66
4Nice6105816-83

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Rangers6420137614
2Benfica6330189912
3Standard Liege6114714-74
4Lech Poznan6105614-83

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1PSV Eindhoven6402129312
2Granada632163311
3PAOK Salonika61328716
4Omonia Nicosia6114512-74

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Napoli632174311
2Real Sociedad62315419
3AZ Alkmaar62227528
4HNK Rijeka6114612-64

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Leicester6411145913
2Sporting Braga64111410413
3Zorya Luhansk6204611-56
4AEK Athens6105715-83

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1AC Milan6411127513
2Lille6321148611
3Sparta Prague62041012-26
4Celtic61141019-94

I

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Villarreal65101751216
2Maccabi Tel-Aviv632167-111
3Sivasspor6204911-26
4FK Qarabag6015413-91

J

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Tottenham64111551013
2Royal Antwerp640285312
3LASK63121112-110
4Ludogorets6006719-120

K

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Dinamo Zagreb642091814
2RZ Pellets WAC631276110
3Feyenoord612348-45
4CSKA Moscow603338-53

L

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Hoffenheim65101721516
2Red Star Belgrade632194511
3Slovan Liberec6213413-97
4KAA Gent6006415-110
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